Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student
It is a Sunday night and the 6 p.m. news is blaring from the television. My four brothers and I are huddled around the set in a semi-circle, hushing each other. We don't want to miss one morsel of pertinent information about this impending snowstorm the weatherman is promising us. "Bundle up and get your snow boots ready. We're looking at maybe getting a foot or two of that powdery, white stuff before sunrise," he informs us.
This is truly music to our ears. These are the words we've been waiting to hear because tomorrow is Monday and that means school unless, of course, it's "a snow day." I hear my mother let out a desperate, low groan from the kitchen. It is the sound that only a mother of five children who has experienced many a snow day can appreciate.
As for my brothers and me, we love everything about a snow day. It's not just about missing a day of school, nor is it just a day when we pack up the family and go to the snow. This is a day when the snow comes to us, relentlessly. So much so, that the roads become a glassy sheet of ice, bringing a halt to the yellow parade of school buses carrying their precious cargoes. For school-aged children, this is a day full of snowmen and snow forts, snowball fights and sleigh riding, hot cocoa and chicken noodle soup.
I know the snow's coming. I can recognize the smell of it in the air. It's a heavy smell that accompanies the thick, gray clouds in a starless night sky. There's a chill that stings my nose and it hurts just to breathe in such frosty air and there's a stillness about the world. I can almost hear a pin drop.
It is now bedtime and I put on my pink, flannel nightgown. I stand on my tiptoes to look out my bedroom window. The glass fogs up from the warmth of my breath and I wipe the window clear with my hand. If I strain my eyes, I can see the slight flurry of white dust. It is beginning to snow and I feel my heart skip a beat in anticipation. I climb into my bed, and I let my down comforter envelop me in its warmth. I say my prayers and include a final request after all the blessings. "And, God, could you please just let it snow and snow and snow all night?"
At exactly 6 a.m., the silence of our sleepy household is broken by the loud, continual whistle from the local fire house. It lasts for exactly sixty seconds and it is an official sign that a snow day has been declared. From my parents' bedroom, I can hear the faint sound of the morning radio broadcast. They are confirming the closure of schools by districts. Yes, Middle Country School District is in fact on the list of closures and that means us! I hear my brothers in their bedrooms, hooting and hollering, oblivious to the pained expression on my mom's face as she walks past their bedroom door. We look out our windows and before us lies a glorious sight. It has become a winter wonderland. The snow covers the earth in a white, linen blanket. On the streets, I can see a few tarnished tire lines from the brave souls who have ventured out. From the streetlights, I can see the snow falling from the sky like confetti. The snowdrifts curve up and around, turning our front doorway into a well-protected fortress. The branches on the trees look like they're wearing long, white sleeves with the snow hanging heavily upon them. In the distance, I can see the yellow, revolving flashes of lights, and I hear the low, scraping sound from the snow plows as they make their way along the sleepy, white streets of my neighborhood.
Alas, a snow day begins, much to my mother's chagrin. Five pairs of snow boots, five sets of gloves and mittens, five scarves and hats, five pair of thermal underwear and five snowsuits are pulled from the old, green military trunk stored in the cellar. Lined up like soldiers awaiting inspection, we are handed our snow gear and we attempt to dress ourselves, which resembles something of a domino game. As my oldest brother loses his balance in his effort to put on his boots, he knocks over my other brother, who is putting on his socks, who in turn, knocks down my other brother, who is putting on his thermals and so on and so on. We tumble around on the floor in a fit of laughter, arms flailing and legs in the air. Our gloves and mittens are all mismatched and strewn about, like a tossed salad of woolens and knits. We haven't even made it outdoors and already we are aching in the sides from laughter.
As we head out the door, we wave back at our mom who is standing there, completely exhausted from the effort it took to get us all dressed. Our snow clothes make a swishing sound with each step as we walk out the door, and we look like a line of penguins as we waddle, side to side, from the swelling of layer upon layer of snow gear. It's colder out than I thought. My scarf blows in the wind and my nose immediately starts to run. My youngest brother turns back to my mom and says the words that she knew would be coming. "I have to go to the bathroom."
My brothers and I break up into teams for a snowball fight. There is always an argument about whose team I will be on. I am always the last to be picked in any of the games we play, for obvious reasons. No matter how hard I try to convince them that I can throw a snowball as good as the next guy, I'm still a girl. We find our hiding spots and the hurling begins. Five minutes later, I'm in tears over a hit I took in the face. My oldest brother explains to me that this is why girls don't have snowball fights and we decide for everyone's sake, it's time to make a snowman.
The one benefit of being the only girl when it comes to snowman-making is I always get to make the head. I make a perfectly round snowball and roll it over and over through the snow. As it collects the snow, it grows and grows until it is a suitably-sized head. As my brothers work on the body, my mom brings a long, orange carrot and some dark, wrinkly raisins to the door for me to adorn its face. My brothers push another collecting snowball for the midsection and yet another for its base. It will be huge, at least six feet tall! With all their might, grunting and groaning, they push the mid-section on top of the base and they lift me up to put the head on. A few straggly branches for its arms, my scarf around its neck and my brother's woolen hat on top are the finishing touches. We look up at our mom, who is watching us from the front window. She gives us the thumbs up sign for a job well done.
With frozen hands and feet in wet gloves and snow boots, we begin our way back into the house with thoughts of a hot, steamy cup of cocoa. Our noses are bright red and our hair is stringy with bits of fallen ice in it. We are happy and wet and cold and stiff. We strip off our snow gear, layer by layer, and leave it all in a heap on the foyer floor. Puddles surround where the snow boots stand. We look up at our mom at the top of the stairs. She has the cocoa ready for us and sets it down on the kitchen table. We immediately encircle our cold hands around the warm cup and breathe in the hot steam to warm our noses as my mom begins the arduous task of picking up the cold, wet pile of clothes. She dutifully turns five sets of gloves right side out and throws them into a large, plastic laundry basket along with the five drippy snowsuits, four soggy hats and four scarves laden with ice crystals. She wipes dry the insides and outsides of five pairs of snow boots and lines them up beside the door, largest to smallest, on a piece of old newspaper. She carries the heavy, wet load of clothes down to the cellar and throws them into the dryer. She turns the thermals right side out and she carefully sorts the different sizes and folds them neatly. She takes extra care to make sure the size 6 undershirt is with the size 6 underpants, and she does so with all five sets. She gives the floor a quick mopping from the puddles of melted snow we left behind and she climbs the stairs, letting out a quiet sigh. She looks at the five of us with our rosy cheeks and bright eyes. There's something about the outdoors that gives children such a healthy glow. She sits down with us and we sip our cocoa together.
"Hey, Mom, can we go back outside after we finish our cocoa?" my brother chirps.
"Don't you just love a snow day, Mom?"